Re: The cost of peer review and electronic distribution of scholarly journals

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 14:05:36 +0100

On Tue, 20 May 2008, Richard Poynder wrote:

> I am trying to establish (in the specific context of scholarly journals)
> whether anyone knows of any research that has been undertaken to establish
> the dollar cost of a) implementing the peer review of a scholarly paper,
> b)
> distributing a scholarly paper electronically.
> If so, I would be grateful for details of what the estimated costs were,
> and
> links to any papers/reports that were produced as a result of that
> research
> (if they are available on an OA basis).

There's this old CERN Discussion Group Summary by APS's Mark Doyle:

APS estimated the cost as $500 per paper, but it is not at all clear
that that estimate is really what peer review would cost alone, without
being part of the entire current publishing process and infrastructure.

The only ones who could answer that would be those who have implemented
an OA journal whose *only* function is providing peer review: no
print edition, no online edition, mark-up, no document creation, no PDF
production, no access-provision, archiving, fulfillment or distribution --
all of that being offloaded instead onto the network of IRs, providing
open access to their own published output. (My guess is that it will be
perhaps well less, than $200 per paper even if the costs of the rejected
papers are factored into the costs of the accepted ones.)

As for the costs of providing that access: That should be easier to
estimate, even from today's near-empty IRs: Pick some IRs whose only
target is peer-reviewed journal articles, find out the start-up cost for
setting up the IR, plus the annual maintenance costs. Then determine the
annual institutional article output, and divide that by the annual IR
costs. (It should come out to less than $10 per paper.)

Looking forward to hearing what you find in place of these armchair

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue May 20 2008 - 14:42:29 BST

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